Sunday, June 15, 2014

Vitamin D: the Sunshine Vitamin

The major biological function of vitamin D is to maintain normal blood levels of calcium and phosphorus. Vitamin D increases absorption of calcium from the small intestine, helping to form and maintain strong bones. It promotes bone mineralization in concert with a number of other vitamins, minerals, and hormones.

However, it is quite clear that vitamin D does far more than promote optimized bone health. In addition to the strong evidence provided about prevention of cancer, vitamin D has also been associated with improvement in the following conditions:
• Diabetes
• Heart Disease
• Arthritis
• Infertility and PMS
• Fatigue, Depression and Seasonal Affective Disorder
• Autoimmune Disorders
• Obesity
• Syndrome X

Vitamin D is not "just" a vitamin: it regulates steroidal hormones that influence literally thousands of different genes in your body. Vitamin-D receptors are found in almost every type of human cell, from brain tissue to your bones.

Vitamin D up-regulates your ability to fight infections and chronic inflammation by producing over 200 antimicrobial peptides, including a naturally occurring broad-spectrum antibiotic. For this reason, it can be highly effective against colds and influenza.

The best place to get vitamin D is from sunlight; but darker-skinned people require 10 to 20 times more sun exposure than lighter-skinned people do to build up the same amount of vitamin D.  Light-induced synthesis occurs in the skin when ultraviolet light reacts with a form of cholesterol, converting it to cholecalciferol. This molecule is then altered by the liver and kidneys to form the physiologically active vitamin D.

Some key points to remember

The vitamin D in supplemented milk and in many cheap vitamins may be vitamin D2 (ergocalciferol). It is not nearly as good as the vitamin D created in your body when you expose your skin to sunlight or that found in animal-based food sources (like cod liver oil, fish and egg yolk) which is called vitamin D3 (calciferol).

It is also very important to realize that the RDA of vitamin D of 600 IU (recently upgraded from 400IU) is absolutely inadequate for most people who do not have exposure to regular sunshine. Remember that RDA values were established to prevent deficiency diseases--not for optimal health!

Most people who are deficient will need up to 10,000 units per day for a short time to build their vitamin D levels up to healthy ranges.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Healthy Gut --> Healthy Body

The healthier our gut is, the better able nutrients can be absorbed.  This just makes sense... 

Probiotics reduce the duration and severity of respiratory tract illness in healthy children and adults 

“In a newly published meta-analysis probiotics, specifically lactobacillus and bifidobacterium strains, decreased the length and severity of the common cold in otherwise healthy children and adults.”
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, respiratory infectious disease results in significant health and economic burden on society with over 20 million school days and adult workdays a year lost to the common cold. Several studies have evaluated the effectiveness of probiotics on the symptoms and incidence of common infectious respiratory diseases.

In a new study published online in the British Journal of Nutrition, researchers reviewed research on the effect of probiotics on the duration of acute respiratory tract infections (RTI) in otherwise healthy children and adults.

In this meta-analysis, researchers identified twenty randomized controlled trials of good quality from eight medical and scientific databases. Only studies utilizing lactobacillus and bifidobacterium strains were analyzed. In the included trials, three main outcomes were reported: duration of illness episodes; number of days of illness per person; and absenteeism from day care/school/work.

These results show that when compared to participants who didn’t take probiotics, the duration of illness episodes was decreased between one half to one day in those that took probiotics. Subjects that used probiotics also reported significantly fewer days of illness per person and lower absenteeism from day care/school/work than those who had taken a placebo.

 This new review provides evidence that probiotics, specifically lactobacillus and bifidobacterium strains, may reduce the duration and severity of respiratory tract illnesses in otherwise healthy children and adults.

 King S, Glanville J, Sanders ME, et al. Effectiveness of probiotics on the duration of illness in healthy children and adults who develop common acute respiratory infectious conditions: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Br J Nutr. 2014 Apr 29:1-14.

I was once dowsed by an energy worker who was most surprised to find my gut function was over 90% efficient, when most of the people he'd checked were usually around 20%.  I told him the nutritional regimen I use, and he replied "Oh, you're one of them!  No wonder."